Here’s how bad things have gone for Ed Servais and the Creighton Bluejays baseball team in 2012. Saturday, Erik Mattingly — not even in the starting weekend rotation to begin the season — threw nine innings of no-hit, no-walk baseball against Indiana State, the top offensive team in the MVC, and left with a no decision. He exited with neither team tallying a run, and then the Jays lost in the twelfth 2-0.
The Sycamores entered the weekend as one of the strongest offensive teams in the nation. The Creighton pitching staff limited ISU to an average of 2.6 runs per game during the weekend; the only CU win in the series was an 8-0 shutout on Easter Sunday.
With just two wins in nine league games, the Bluejays, last year’s regular season and tournament champions, sit alone in last place in the Valley standings.
Indiana State 6, Creighton 3 // photos
The Bluejays jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the weekend’s first game. Brad McKewon led off the bottom of the first with a single and scored after Chance Ross drilled a triple. But Ross would be retired on a Nick Judkins fielder’s choice for the first out of what could have been a big inning. Instead, CU settled for one more run, as Scott Thornburg brought Judkins home on a sac fly after a one-out single by Anthony Bemboom moved Judkins to third base.
The Sycamores got a run back in the third inning but gave it right back in the bottom half, with a one-out error allowing Judkins to reach third on a fielder’s choice play by Bemboom. Thornburg drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice on another fielder’s choice. That would wrap the scoring for the Bluejays.
Ty Blach would give up the 3-1 lead in the next half inning, hitting a batter with one out and then walking the next hitter to put two men on for Koby Kraemer, who doubled in both runners to tie the game at 3-3. Kraemer came around to score on a squeeze play to give Indiana State the lead for good. The Sycamores would add an RBI double in the seventh and a sac bunt RBI in the eighth inning for the final two tallies of the evening.
ISU’s Dakota Bacus went 8 innings and gave up just three runs (two earned) while walking one batter and striking out seven Jays. Blach (3-3) recorded two outs in the seventh before leaving, having given up five runs and striking out seven while walking three and hitting a batter.
Indiana State 2, Creighton 0 (F/12) // photos
If Creighton’s baseball season continues down its current path, Saturday’s game will be an unfortunate example of the woes that have plagued the squad so far. With two outs in the first inning, Mattingly hit Jeremy Lucas with a pitch. Lucas would be the first and last batter to reach base for the Sycamores until Robby Ort singled off Mark Winkelman with two outs in the tenth inning. Mattingly earned national player of the week honors for his nine innings of no-hit, no-walk pitching, but he left after nine frames with a no decision.
The Jays had a chance to win the game in the ninth, but base running mistakes cost Creighton the victory. Bemboom led off the inning with a walk but he was picked off the base. Alex Staehely doubled and Mike Gerber singled, but Staehely was thrown out at home for the second out of the inning. In total, CU left ten men on base in the game.
Reese McGraw got the final out of the Indiana State tenth inning, then retired the Trees in the eleventh before giving up two runs in the twelfth inning. He earned the loss, pushing his record to 2-5 in 2012.
Creighton 8, Indiana State 0 // photos
The Bluejays bounced back on Easter Sunday with a shutout victory, thanks to a solid effort from starting pitcher Shane Liska. The senior transfer from Xavier threw six innings of three-hit, three-walk baseball, striking out seven Sycamores and leaving with a 6-0 lead. The CU bullpen would hold Liska’s victory, with Winkelman pitching two scoreless innings and Kurt Spomer wrapping up the eighth inning with three strikeouts.
The Jays scored one in the first on an RBI double by Judkins. Brennan Murphy’s fielder’s choice in the second inning scored a run, and Ross singled to bring Murphy in to put CU up 3-0 after two innings.
Thornburg doubled home Judkins in the third inning and then scored on a double by Staehely, putting the Jays up 5-0 after three frames. Murphy would bunt himself on to lead off the fourth inning, advance to second on a wild pitch, advance to third on a Ross sac bunt, and then score on another errant pitch.
Ross wrapped up the offensive output later in the eighth inning, thanks to a two-run single by Ross that plated Jake Peter and Murphy.
Liska (1-1) won his first game as a Bluejay and Creighton captured just the team’s second win in league play.
Creighton returns to action tonight, when the Jays travel to Lincoln for a 6:30 p.m. game against the Nebraska Huskers. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.